one thing

Illustration by Reine Defranco

One Thing: Deed before Death

What is the one thing that you've always wanted to do?

The desire to live life to the fullest is shared by many, yet fulfilled by few. Fullest is an ideal that can be interpreted in different ways, such as gathering as many experiences, feeling deeply or understanding as much as possible. In simpler terms, that sense of living fully can be acquired from the act of daring to do something that has been lingering in one’s mind for some time. The excuses and obstacles that stand in the way can be plentiful, such as temporal and monetary constraints, yet perseverance often leads to great results.
A consciousness of what one is spending time and energy on is a helpful indicator in the quest of doing what one wants rather than doing what one must. Junior Isabella Peralta has dedicated an entire exhibition titled One Thing to the aforementioned subject matter, which will open at The Cube in NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arts Center on Oct. 11.
The impetus behind creating One Thing lies in Peralta’s interest in participatory work, wherein audience members explore themes ranging from love to death. A personal desire to make an installation that inspires people to do things they’ve always wanted to do hits the nail on the head.
One of the biggest challenges for the artist was the development of the website, which required Peralta to teach herself the basics of front-end development.
“After a few weeks of putting my HTML, CSS and jQuery skills to the test, the website is finally up and running,” said Peralta.
The website is a medium through which one can be informed about and engage with the installation. A flickering array of appealing must-dos are put together in a video that hints at the content of the exhibition, ranging from writing a novel to visiting all seven continents to joining a hackathon. The website also provides the opportunity for visitors to submit an answer to the question, “What is one thing you want to do before you die?” It is a space that can be understood and contributed to from anywhere in the world.
At its core, One Thing examines the idea of death.
“We don’t know when our last day on this planet will be, and before I die, I want to know that I did everything that I wanted to do, and that I made an impact on the lives of other people,” said Peralta. “Death can be a very serious, morbid topic, but it’s something that we will all face one day, and I think it’s something we should acknowledge and use to motivate us to live our lives the way we wish.”
The kind of art that an artist wishes to create is another way of learning more about the final product. In Peralta’s case, this can be summarized as “art that is meaningful, art that questions and provokes, art that makes you reconsider what you know and think about what you don’t know.”
Natalie Kopczewski is Deputy Creative Editor. Email her at
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